May 10/11 2019 – Local N Baja Bluefin
Day 1: Teamwork makes the Dreamwork!
After seeing a steady stream of pictures, reports and Instagram posts from the local fleet and friends – I was giddy to get my crack at some of the nice grade Bluefin running through our zones. I rallied a crew and grabbed one of the Freedom Boat Club Key West center consoles to go hunt down the elusive blues. I had gotten skunked the week before on a scouting trip when we zigged instead of zagged, missing the school by just a few miles. But we pushed back from the dock with a scoop of sardines and a few monster mackerel thanks to good buddy Trevor!
As soon as we left Mission Bay, we were greeted to a stiff South wind that slowed us down to a crawl. But we limped to the Coronados to take a quick peek around and see if could score a couple Yellows. Immediately we got dump on with a rain shower passing through. We slow trolled around some of the go-to spots and picked a few bites, landing 1 nice Yellowtail. The skunk was officially off the boat and knowing the ride was going to be a slow one, we headed out to the Bluefin zone.
Things started a bit slow before we started to see signs of life – birds casually scanning the waters, signs of some bait and eventually a few onesie/twosie meter marks of bigger fish. Enough to justify setting up a drift. We were surprised how few boats were working the area but confident in our plan and what we were seeing. We set back some fly line sardines on lighter (40-50 lbs gear with small hooks) and put out a HUGE mackerel under the kite with the heavy setup (130 lbs.). The one big sportboat that was working in the distance had shuffled to the west. Admittedly, it was tempting to give in and push west with the big sporty with superior sonar tech and bottomless chum bait. But a lesson recently learned from Captain Jamie (Season’s Sportfishing) – we wanted to wait it out a bit more as we had marked a few nice schools of big fish.
The wait paid dividends in short order as I looked out to our kite bait saw what you dream of – your bait and line racing the other direction. “We’re BIT!” as I frantically wound tight to the unmistakable weight of bluefin tuna. Initially, it was hard to tell just how big it was until I went to hand off the rod to Carter and prep everything for battle. To me, the absolute best part of the day was watching 14-year old Carter, who is already a die-hard fisherman, work the big bluefin on the heavy gear. Everything went right and I’m incredibly stoked at how well everyone on board worked together to ensure we landed this fish. With Carter on the stick and everyone focused on putting this one in the boat, we had a 138 lbs. (taped) Bluefin on the deck.
The moment felt borderline surreal and we were all on such a high. Such a beautiful fish and awesome moment as an angler. We took all took some pictures with the fish and prepped it for processing. This is one that will not be forgotten for a myriad of reasons. Very thankful and more obsessed with this sport than ever.
Day 2: The old “No bad days” cliche 100% true on the Sea
Back out for round 2 and hopeful to repeat what had happened just a short day ago. Juan was joining in for back to back days as we took a few pit stops before hitting the docks. One of, a dropoff to Five Star Fish Processing to ensure our catch was taken handled and cut professionally. One day I would love to process my own big tuna but being my first “real” one – thought it better to let the best of best take care of.
We met Chase at the docks and quickly set back out on the same course and plan as the day before. A quick look through the same zone to see if we could get really lucky and pick up another. Things looked similar but we never saw any signs of real fish. So we made the call to push west and take a look at new water. We launched the yummy flyer setup and pointed out, hoping to get lucky while making the move.
We didn’t end up getting any repeat luck from the bluefin but found some really nice kelp paddies absolutely loaded with Yellowtail. We stopped on a couple and pulled on a few small 5-6 lbs. fish for fun. All were released to grow another day. The rain from this morning and the day prior made for stunning visibilty along the coastline. We enjoyed some cervesas while taking in an epic sunset. Today ended up being more about enjoying time on the water with awesome company than stellar fishing. Nonetheless, it left us all eager to get back out there as soon as possible.
Apr. 14 2019 – Local Spring Yellows
Fun Day with a fun crew. Reconnecting with local waters
Finally things had lined up – good weather, no winds on a weekend. So time to call in an I owe you trip to some friends whose last time out got cut short due to a “leaky” boat. Well to keep the unfavorable streak going, this trip picked up where we left off but this time with the electronics. After nearly an hour trying and uncessfully troubleshooting the Simrad, we were going to be rolling blind and fishfinderless. Oh well – it was just nice to be on and getting reconnected with our local waters.
Luckily I had printed out the temp charts the night before and had Navionics on my phone to guide us so not all was lost. I knew I wanted to check out around the islands en route to the zone where the fishing had been good as of late. As we approached North Coronado Isalnd, we slowed down to survey. Nice clean water, plenty of birds around and just us and a couple other sportboats in the distant morning fog. Since we didn’t have sonar, I had the guys drop back a few sardines to to slow troll and see if we could locate any schools.
Lo and behold, we quickly found life first in the form of a jumbo bonito shortly followed by Aaron’s first Yellowtail. The skunk was off the boat and we opted to stick with slow trolling since it was drumming up a steady bite. We got a couple more on the boat and lost a few before setting up on solid school of fish. And it was game on. Chase dumped some live baits out for chum and everyone got their fly lined baits in the water. I threw a stickbait lure from the front and connected on first cast with a quility school grade Yellowtail, my first of 2019.
Unfortunately for me trying to capitalize on the action around us, I carelessly rushed to get my fish in the boat and as I grabbed the leader sunk the front treble hook in my palm. Luckily, it went out and through (vs. actually into deeper tissue) so using the highly sanitary bait knife, freed myself with only a minor flesh wound. We quickly reset on that school and managed to get 4 of 5 lines bit – “WE GOT QUADS”! Even better, is we were able to land all 4 fish.
The fishing settled down a bit and wind started to kick up more than anticipated. In an effort to cover more ground and not get tossed around in the wind chop, we switched over to trolling Rapalas. It took a bit but we were able to get doubles, away from the parking lot crowds around the islands. Now with 9 on the boat, we really wanted 1 more to make it an even 10 but after searching for another 45-60 minutes, decided to call it a day and head to the barn around 1.
I was stoked to enjoy some solid springtime Yellowtail fishing with a fun crew but even more stoked that we were able to get a couple guys first Yellowtail. No doubt they were fully hooked now and look forward to getting this group together again throughout the season!
Apr. 1 2019 – Fort Myers Permit Trip
Morning mission success with Capt. Chase Fulton
After spending a week in Sarasota for work, I decided to extend my trip and visit some family down in Marco Island. The weather had absolutely perfect all week and the weekend looked to be the same. So after being taunted by Captain Chase Fulton’s Instagram posts of seemingly bottomless Permit, I gave in and decided to sneak out for a Saturday morning strike mission.
Captain Chase picked me up at Sanibel Island and we pointed west to his Permit fishing honey hole. The seas were a bit bumpy but his dialed in 24′ bay boat handled them well and we made it there in good time. The current was moving pretty strong and we saw some good marks over his secret wreck spot but no takers to start. We stayed persistant and kept resetting and looking at different parts of the wreck to locate a school. Per usual, persistance paid off and I was bit on our first fish. A solid grade mid-high 20 inch Permit was landed and skunk was off the boat!
We stuck to the program and just as we predicted, the seas laid down and sun came out (which provided me with a really rad tanktop sunburn/tanline). After losing what felt like a really nice fish to the taxman (shark) – I redeemed myself on a monster 36-37″! These fish pull like a freight train and definetely an awesome pound for pound fight all the way to the boat. We managed a couple more, lost another to the sharks and called it day! We shot the shit on the way in and after spending the day with Chase, look forward to 100% fishing with him again in the near future!
Mar. 14 2019 – Local La Jolla 1/2 Day
Good to be on the Water but Slow Fishing.
It’s only fair that I share and log both the good AND the bad trips. Today we were treated to good weather (including an epic sunrise), good bait thanks to Everingham Bait Bros and good/flat seas to run up the coast. The fishing itself on the other hand, not so good and overall very slow outside of a couple nice Calico Bass and small Rockfish. En route from San Diego bay to La Jolla, we rolled through National Geographic-esque mackerel under birds. We snagged a couple macks to slow troll by dropping our jigs (1 surface iron & 1 100g Coltsniper) just a few feet under the surface.
Once we made it to our spot, we slowed trolled a few macks while we scouted the water. Cold, dirty and lifeless is ultimately what we found despite a pretty good outgoing current. We drifted a few different areas but no signs of our target species (“Homeguard Yellowtails & White Seabass). All in all, it was great to be on water and looking forward to logging some more days in our local waters this upcoming spring.
Feb. 23 2019 – Santa Cruz Island Trip
New grounds, New scenery, New techniques
Arguably my favorite aspect of fishing is exploring new zones, fishing with new friends and constantly learning new techniques. The requirement to constantly be progressing and learning is what truly drives me deeper into the sport. This trip was really a culmination of those factors.
I headed up to Ventura on Friday night to meet up with my buddy Garrett from Spankbank sportfishing who recently relocated up there. The plan was to get a decently early start, launch the boat and head over to scout one or maybe two of the local Channel Islands. We almost blew this plan up upon my arrival Friday night by having a little too much fun with drinking games and beverages until 2+ AM. Nevertheless, we got off the launch ramp around 8ish and pointed out towards Santa Cruz island.
To make our hangovers worse, we were treated to some very confused seas thanks to SE winds crossed over a NW swell. We made to the area we wanted to start at and got rigged up to do some bounce balling for halibut. The bait barge was out this morning so we only had the squid we brought prior to making bait. Neither of us has actually run this but Garrett dropped back his bounce ball rig tipped with fresh frozen squid on a hoochie skirt. No more than 15-20 minutes we got our first hit, the right kind but short fish. We quickly strung together a few more bites on short grades and Turbot (first time catching one) before finding what we came for. I was in the process of rigging up a second bounce ball setup and watched Garrett’s line get smacked, no doubt he was bit! Immediately he could tell it was a nicer fish that pulled drag a couple times but mostly came right to the boat before waking up. I stuck the gaff in him and pulled him inside. We were stoked and celebrated while the fish thrashed around the boat. Took the obligatory fishing pictures to be posted on the interwebs/social media and back to business.
Turns out that was the last bite of our day as the high tide hit slack and everything shut down besides some birds over bait (which we picked up a couple mackerels to try later). I screwed the pooch a little by not being more proactive and having my rig setup earlier to capitalize on what turned out to be a short bite window. Typically I’m ready to rock prior to getting to the zone but was slacking and unfamiliar so waited it out to see what the game plan was until it was too late. Oh well, lesson learned and still stoked to take the trip and scout new areas.
Getting a taste of exploring the Channel Islands and a new fishery has me giddy to get back up there and log some time/trips in this season. Stoked to have a buddy up there who is generous to offer up a place to crash and boat to fish. Thanks again Garrett for the hospitality and super excited to log some more islands trips this season!
Feb. 10 2019 – Local SD Lobster Hoop
Grinding through gear & weather
Got the call from my buddy Garrett with Spank Bank Sportfishing:
“Are you around tonight?” – 2:15PM Garrett
“What’s happening? Currently stuck furniture shopping – my nightmare haha. Yeah I”m open tonight – what’s up?” – Me
“Going lobster fishing. Gonna try to leave the dock by 4:45. Meet time 4:30”
I needed no further convincing, I was in. Ran home, grabbed some gear (although managed to forget to grab a bass stick – dumb), my lobster card, stuffed the Yeti with some leftover Coors light from a Mammoth trip last week, and headed down to Harbor Island to link up. Met up with Garrett, his girlfriend Allison, and two other buddies Ori and Jeff. Loaded up the gear, pushed back from our slip and started stuffing the bait cages as we cracked our first good luck beverages. In the bay, it was calm and sunny but you could tell it was a different story on the other side of Point Loma and some darker rain clouds hung just offshore. We dropped our first set, cracked a few more cold ones and tossed some artificials while the gear soaked.
The first set was mostly blanks with a few shorts. Not a huge surprise as it was slack low tide when we pulled so we knew it should get better. The weather had other plans however, as it started dumped rain on us while we pulled our next set or two. We joked this was as close to “Deadliest Catch” as San Diego gets. Jeff got things started with a few nice pulls on our first couple keepers mixed in with some shorts. We found a little spot to reshuffle our hoops to and kept grinding it out. Things slowly got better as the tide moved in and we let each set soak a little longer.
With the wind picking up and it being a “school night” with most of us having to work in the morning, we decided to call a Hail Mary. So we stacked all our gear and moved to a new spot we were hoping had better volume. Captain Garrett made the right call and after a long soak, we were on the crawl. Unfortunately, a majority were shorts but definitely a few really meaty keepers in the mix too. Had we committed another hour or two to hooping, no doubt our numbers would have been better. But with 10 nice sized bugs in the bag, we each were going home with 2 and happy to call it a night as the wind started really picking up. All in all, glad I got the call and got to fish with some new dudes I hope to get out with again. Always fun meeting new fishing friends plus the ultimate bonus of lobster dinner tomorrow night! – Jordan